NIWA forecast aids decision-making on the farm and orchard

NIWA has launched a new web-based subscription weather forecasting and information service, called NIWA forecast, which will help New Zealand farmers and growers identify windows of opportunity to carry out weather-dependent operations such as fertilising, spraying and harvesting.

The service will also help farmers and growers weigh up risk and make preventative decisions like when to move stock and machinery, irrigate, and protect against frost, snow, heavy rain or high winds.

NIWA forecast was officially launched at Fieldays 2013, where visitors were able to try it out on site and take advantage of special subscription offers. Anyone interested in the service who couldn't make it to Fieldays can contact us at forecast@niwa.co.nz for more information.

Information tailored to your farm or orchard

NIWA forecast delivers local weather observations, a range of forecasts from two to 15 days, and valuable climate analyses direct to farmers' and growers' computers via the Internet. Information and forecasts are generated using data from the NIWA weather station that best represents climatic conditions on their property, rather than using regional averages. Greater accuracy and relevance for individual farmers and growers is the result. NIWA's forecast 'resolution' is 12km – meaning we can create a different set of forecasts for properties as little as 12km apart.

The service is backed by NIWA's internationally recognised expertise in the collection, management and distribution of weather and climate data, and by the modelling and computational capabilities of one of the most powerful supercomputers of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

NIWA forecast subscribers will receive a direct, 24/7 feed to their computer of:

  • Current weather

    Air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation amount, wind speed and direction. Soil moisture and soil temperature will also be available if they are supported by the chosen station.

  • Forecast weather
    • High-resolution forecast out to two days (updated four times daily, hourly forecast intervals)

      Air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation amount, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, and animated maps showing hourly precipitation, pressure and wind.

    • Medium-resolution forecast out to six days (updated once daily, three-hourly forecast intervals)

      Air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation amount, wind speed and direction, and animated maps showing three-hourly precipitation and wind.

    • Probabilistic forecast out to fifteen days (updated once daily, daily forecast intervals)

      Maximum and minimum air temperature, precipitation amount, average wind speed, soil temperature (if available from chosen station) and probability of air temperature falling below 0°C.

    • Seasonal climate outlook

      A three-month look ahead at expected rainfall, temperature, soil moisture and river flows in your region (relative to long-term averages).

  • Up-to-date summaries
    • National summary maps

      Last 15 days' precipitation, month-to-date precipitation, soil moisture deficit, soil moisture anomaly, last 15 days' sun, month-to-date sun, last 15 days' temperature, and month-to-date temperature.

    • Summaries for your chosen station

      Accumulated precipitation, mean soil temperature, soil water balance, mean temperature, mean wind speed, and frost occurrence.

Subscribers will also be able to set automated alerts that trigger email or text 'warning' messages to nominated recipients whenever the specified alert conditions are forecast – instantly identifying windows of opportunity or periods of risk.

For more information on NIWA forecast:

Contact us at forecast@niwa.co.nz 

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Warren Bruce with Otis, mustering sheep on his farm near Wellington. [Dave Allen]

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Irrigator on a farm near Linkwater, Marlborough, 2013. [Dave Allen]

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Aerial topdressing can only be done under specific weather conditions. Photo taken on Warren Bryant's in Ohariu Valley near Wellington. [Dave Allen]